’Cats clinch sixth seed, fall in conference tournament

Sean Campbell

The women’s soccer team (5-9-4, 3-4-2) lost its last game of the season, 2-1, in a thrilling overtime match against Providence Friday night, which solidified the Wildcat’s sixth seed in the Big East Tournament.

The Friars, who were battling Villanova for the fifth seed in the tournament, scored in the 29th minute off a simple strategy that has worked for the team all season—feeding junior forward Catherine Zimmerman the ball.

Zimmerman’s goal came off a well-timed cross from sophomore forward Rachel Ugolik. The goal marked Zimmerman’s 11th goal of the season as she finished the season second in the Big East in goals scored.

Despite the first half deficit, Villanova responded in the second half with three close shots on goal before tying the game with a 70th minute goal. 

Freshman forward Amanda Vocelka netted her first goal of the season off a powerful shot just a few feet outside the box.  

With the game tied, 1-1, at the end of regulation, Villanova found itself in a place that the team has become all too familiar with in recent weeks—overtime.

Though the team has tied all of its last four overtime matches, they could not contain the Providence offense on Friday as junior midfielder Allison Mills scored within the first minute of overtime. 

Her golden goal came off a corner kick from freshman Rachel Morrier that she headed past Villanova’s sophomore goalie Emma Meyer.

Villanova was outshot by the Friars 25-8 and recorded zero corner kicks in the contest. Meyer logged six saves to Friar sophomore goalie Kristyn Shea’s three.

As a result of the loss, Villanova played the third-seeded St. John’s Red Storm last  Tuesday in New York, instead of the fourth-seeded Marquette in the first round of postseason play.

Coming into the game, Villanova knew it had to harness its biggest strength from the regular season, its tough defensive play, if it wanted to pull off the upset. 

The ’Cats also knew they had to rely on two of their best players, junior center back Emily Damstrom and Meyer, the freshman goalkeeper. 

Damstrom earned a spot on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll last week for her defensive play and game tying goal against the Georgetown Hoyas, which lifted the Wildcats into the playoffs. 

In addition, she has charted the most minutes on the field for the Wildcats this season.

Similarly, Meyer has been one of the best goalies in the conference this year as she finished within the top three in the Big East in save percentage, total saves and shutouts.

Through conference play this season, the Wildcats have relied on strong defense as the team has not lost to a conference opponent by more than one goal despite being heavily outshot in several conference contests.

Offensively, the Wildcats have used a balanced attack with 10 different players recording goals on the year. The top goal scorer for Villanova this season is Victoria Gersh, with three goals, followed by three other Wildcats with two goals. 

Despite all of the positives for the Wildcats this season, they fell to the Red Storm by a score of 2-0 in New York last Tuesday. 

This loss ended the Wildcats season, one in which they finished with a record of 5-10-4. 

Despite the somewhat lopsided recoord, the ’Cats went 3-5-2 in the Big East conference and lost a number of one-goal games, including a few in overtime or double overtime. 

Each of the past couple years, the Wildcats have shown tremendous improvement, and this trend seems poised to continue, as many of the team’s top players are sophomores and juniors.